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All That Glitters


Prong-Less in Paradise

Richard Alan Redundancy is a sure way to learn something and in my business it rings true when dealing with customers. My new shop has been a beehive of activity with both old and new faces appearing to mend broken jewelry or replace watch straps or dead batteries. The predominant repair problem of 2012 is still worn out ring prongs. Yeah, so I sound like a broken record, redundancy once again. I can’t stress how important it is to check the security status of one’s prongs, channels or bezels that hold your valuable diamonds or gemstones. Unless you live ... Read More »

Sea Life… as it is!

ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan I mentioned in my last article that going back to basics just wasn’t working in this economy. But here on Marco Island or Southwest Florida, for that matter, the love of basic sea life jewelry hasn’t wavered. (No pun intended.) The love of the ocean is why people flock here. Those who visit for the first time are amazed by the beauty of the beaches and the joy of living life by the shore. Personally, I was astounded by the abundant fish and wildlife that the Ten Thousand Islands offer. My first years here were ... Read More »


ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan The faint ray of light at the end of the dark tunnel, to my amazement, was actually a splinter of sunshine, instead of an oncoming train. Are things actually getting better? My conversations with customers who happen to be realtors, also tell me there has been more favorable activity in their field recently. There was a general census taken randomly in a U.S. jewelry trade website last week, asking individual store owners how business was this past holiday shopping season. We shop owners need some signs of reassurance in order to plan for the future. ... Read More »

Fine jewelry vs. gold scrap

All That Glitters Richard Alan Buying gold from the public has become big business for many retail jewelry stores. I have to admit, it is a big part of mine. In the past three years I have easily bought tenfold the amount of gold that I have sold. It is true, with the exorbitant prices of precious metals, folks selling their gold are getting more money that ever before and in some cases, more than they paid for it originally. I get all kinds of reactions when quoting prices for what is presented to me. “You’re kidding me!” or ... Read More »


Richard Alan In my last article I mentioned I took in a lot of diamonds in any given week, but that doesn’t compare to the amount of watches that land on my bench in a single day. I look at and work on a hundred or more timepieces a week. I replace dead batteries, shorten or enlarge metal watch bracelets, replace broken, worn pins and the rivets that hold them together, tighten clasps that don’t clasp and replace worn out leather or rubber straps… lots and lots of watches. They can come from the dollar store, or from a ... Read More »

How Old is Old?

By Richard Alan In any given week, I look at a lot of diamonds, lots and lots of diamonds. I examine them for security in their settings, which includes prong wear and tear. I examine them for damage to the diamond itself. Contrary to public belief diamonds are not unbreakable and can be chipped or severely damaged if proper care is not practiced. Those folks who believe a diamond is indestructible have been reading too many Marvel Superman comics. I also inspect to identify questionable white stones that have been found in recently deceased Aunt Mary’s jewelry box. I ... Read More »

I’m thankful, I really am!

Richard Alan I tend to come across a bit on the sarcastic side, (In case some of you haven’t noticed.) I will try to control that emotion as I write this serious column. For me celebrating the holiday of Thanksgiving was for most of my life a day I dreaded, in those days my family was spread all over the state and I ended up on the road with a car load of kids going from dinner to dinner, it was far from being a thankful day. But today things are very different; I never leave the island and my ... Read More »


Richard Alan  Rarely a day goes by that I don’t get astonished and or flabbergasted by comments made by misinformed or superstitious folks who enter my establishment. I’d like to quote Rick who runs the Las Vegas pawn shop on the T.V. show Pawn Stars. “Even after 30 years in the business you never know what will walk in that door.” Call them wives’ tales or folklore, you name it, most of the time it is just wrong information. Here are some of my favorite ones. You may even believe they are true. Never give opal jewelry to someone if ... Read More »


Richard Alan  Buyer beware is a term used probably before ancient Roman times, to warn even savvy consumers that if the price of merchandise they are purchasing is too good to be true it usually is. I grew up with a saying my mentor, and at the time my master, often quoted (I was an apprentice goldsmith then though I felt like an indentured servant.) “The bitterness of a low price lingers long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten” Ben Franklin.  That saying influenced my whole life, not just what I bought for my household, but even ... Read More »

Honesty & integrity

Richard Alan I’m finally settled in and open at my new location at Island Plaza (better known as Beall’s Plaza) and in just two short weeks I have achieved the desired results I was hoping for. One was to be busier than I was at my old Front Street location, the other was to attract some new clientele. It’s no secret to many of us seasoned island business people that lots of our customers abandon “the rock” each year and many never return for whatever reasons. I have seen a lot of new faces with the old and that’s a ... Read More »

Blue Suede Blues

Richard Alan September is almost over, and I finally got my business moved to my new location at Island Plaza. All my thanks to the contractors, inspectors and my father in-law, Ray, who designed and created the shop of my dreams. September is also the month that has one of the nicest birthstones… the sapphire. A beautiful multi colored gemstone that is also hard and enduring; it can take what life throws at it and not show scratches or chips. The sapphire is a member of the basic superior gem group which includes ruby, emerald and diamond. Sapphire is a ... Read More »

Best laid plans

Richard Alan Again, things are a bit tricky on the rock surrounded by water, a new bridge, torn up streets, detours everywhere, all this with an unpredictable season in the future. I chose this moment in time to move my jewelry business because of the alignment of the planets and tea leaf readings and yes, I factored in this marvelous economy we have been experiencing. I figured it would take a few days to clear out Front Street. I figured wrong, it took two weeks. Set up the new shop in Island Plaza and get it running in a couple ... Read More »


By Richard Alan Up and up we go! Clickity, clack, clickity, clack, over the crest and down, then up, then down, then way, way up! Where’s my stomach? I’m getting dizzy. Will some one please get me off this endless roller coaster ride? No, I’m not talking about being trapped on a crazy ride at some amusement park. My metaphor is about the precious metals market that includes platinum, silver and most important GOLD! I’m a goldsmith, remember? I need to buy this stuff to ply my trade and make a living. It’s not just me but all my colleagues ... Read More »

Ruby, the famous lady in red

By Richard Alan Besides being one of my favorite gemstones the ruby is also the birthstone for those blessed to be born in the month of July. The rubies originating from Thailand are perhaps the most recognizable of rubies although East Africa is more recently a source. But the Burma ruby is coveted for its deep red color, clarity and overall magnificence. The color of ruby varies from bright “cherry red” to a soft bubbly pinkish color. I prefer what is called pigeon’s blood for the ideal color. Dark red to the other end of the color spectrum, light pink. ... Read More »

There’s gold in them thar drawers!

Richard Alan Would an infusion of found cash be a great way to start your day? It would be like finding a wad of hundred dollar bills in an unused suit jacket or a rarely used purse. Believe it or not, there is treasure in your home only a few paces away. I’m talking about gold or silver scrap, which can include broken or un-loved jewelry. Unless you have been living under a coral rock or somewhere on one of the deserted 10,000 islands for the past year or so it’s no secret that all precious metals are at an ... Read More »

If I ignore it, maybe it’ll go away

By Richard Alan I realize most men need to be reminded about certain events deemed important by the opposite sex such as first dates, birthdays, holidays, and the most serious of sins… to forget one’s wedding anniversary date. Many of us alpha-males who have experienced “The quiet punishment” resulting from forgetting a wedding date or heaven forbid her birthday will be sure to make a mental note to self… I must avoid that silent torture in the future. Good gawd, I got punished for forgetting what she was wearing the day we met! (So I bribed a close family member ... Read More »

Divorce Jewelry?

By Richard Alan Wait, before you decide I’m crazy and turn the page, you must understand I get many requests for such things. Yeah, I know, weeks ago I spoke about the beauty of a long and loving marriage and how many couples even renew vows after certain anniversary dates. And I have the utmost respect for them. Personally, I’m a realist and being in the jewelry business my whole life I have seen many couples in love picking out that special engagement ring. Many survive the engagement and many don’t. Sometimes he’s back looking for a refund on the ... Read More »

State of the jewelry biz… 2011

It was once again an interesting season on Marco Island and the rest of the planet. The 2010 holiday season was busier than 2009 and as I predicted,  silver was white hot! I did something that carried me through and surpassed the dismal 2009 season, I began manufacturing sea life silver jewelry with gold accents instead of all gold, the response was fantastic! My off season will be dedicated to creating more new designs for the next holiday season; less gold more silver makes my pieces more affordable. Gratefully there are still occasional clients who still won’t settle for anything ... Read More »

Get wired

By Richard Alan The things ladies wear on their necks like most fashions come and go but one style of neckwear has in my opinion never reached its peak. I’m talking about the simple neck wire. But before I elaborate on neck wires I wish to quell the rumors about “my retirement” and selling the business. I have not retired, but after forty years at the bench, I am limiting my hours at the store, let’s call it “semi-retired” as far as my business… The Harbor Goldsmith is concerned. This summer I am simply moving it and its staff from ... Read More »

Inspiring inscriptions

By Richard Alan Often times when I am accepting a repair or alteration, let’s say a ring sizing, especially an antique ring, I make a note to myself to be careful not to disturb the inside engraving it may contain. You would be surprised how many people are unaware that their inherited rings have engraving on the inside diameter. A century ago, before we could call, beep, page, fax or e-mail or text someone, people actually wrote letters to each other. Often times separated by miles or oceans or a loved one could be away in some war in some ... Read More »